Maru lay down on the bed to look up at the ceiling for a second . He couldn’t stop thinking about how he was going to live his future .
‘Should I try going to a really good university? Become an elite? No, there’s no way I’m actually that smart . I know studying isn’t actually that hard, but trying hard in it doesn’t exactly sound like a good move . ’
Maru took out a math textbook from one of the shelves . Looking at the little graphs and equations in it made him choke a little bit . Same went for the English textbook, as well .
“Ugh, studying . I’m fine, thank you . ”
Maru threw the two textbooks out of sight . He did want to try hard studying and go to a decent university, but taking that first step was pretty hard for him .
“If only I knew some lottery numbers… Or companies that made it big in the market . . . ”
He could still remember what companies made it big in the future in his head . But he realized that this information would disappear slowly in the future . Maybe the heavens didn’t want him getting confused over missing chunks of his memory?
“Should I write it down?” he wondered .
But as soon as he raised himself up to do it,
“You can’t do that . ”
Someone spoke to him from behind . A beautiful woman in a tight-fitting two-piece dress had appeared in the room .
“Uh . . . ”
“You spent the day without any problems . I think you adapted very well considering the situation . ”
“Ah, yes . ”
“But I can’t let you try to remember events in the future . That’s a violation of the contract . ”
The floating woman slowly started to descend down onto the floor . Maru was mindful to lower his voice a little . It would be troublesome if mom walked in after hearing them .
The woman responded almost as if she had read his mind .
“Don’t worry . This place has been sealed off by me . I’m here to explain a few things to you today . ”
“What kind of things?”
“Just confirming things that you should already know of . You will indeed forget most of your memories in the near future . That is, it’ll fall down into your subconsciousness . You’ll remember a few things here and there in the form of nostalgia . Deja vu, that is . Most people actually experience deja vu because they have previously experienced that exact thing in the future . ”
“Are there many people living their lives again like me?”
“Of course . But not many actually realize that they’ve come back to the past . You’ve had that thought, haven’t you? ‘I could have done so much better if I went back to my younger days . ’ Funny thing is, that’s the exact moment when you really have come back from the future . You just can’t remember it,” she continued with a smile, “In any case, most of your memories should be gone by the time you go to sleep today . You’ll still realize you came from the future though, so don’t worry too much about that . ”
Maru raised his hand to cut her off .
“Do you have a question, Mr . Han?”
“I saw a few word bubbles earlier in the day . ”
“Aha, so you have . ”
“Can I really read other people’s minds?”
“Yes . It’s another gift for you from Ms . Yu . ”
“A gift . . . ”
“Of course, you’ll have to figure out how to use it yourself . That’s what makes life fun, isn’t it? You have a few more abilities to uncover yourself as well . Though you might never come across them in your life . ”
“I have other abilities? Kind of like Superm-”
“Nothing that makes you like a superhero, I’m afraid . But there are abilities that would make you even more amazing than that . I can’t get very specific, of course . I can only say your abilities are related to people . ”
“Yes . ”
Abilities related to people… How were such powers supposed to be more powerful than being superhuman? If the word bubbles he saw a few hours ago really let him read minds, it definitely was a better ability than being simply superhuman . To be able to look into minds whenever you want… There weren’t many abilities better than that .
‘It’s a total cheat . ’
He was getting fairly excited . Life would be more enjoyable if he used this ability well .
But it also made him a bit worried . The word bubble kind of came out of nowhere earlier in the day . Things could get bad for him if it cropped up in unexpected places . He knew this from his previous 45 years of experience . He shouldn’t bite off more than he could chew .
“Looks like you figured it out . That’s right . The abilities could help you in life, but it could make things very complicated for you as well . Not everyone gets a happy ending after going back in time . ”
“What a worrying thought . ”
“Everything’s up to how you decide to do things . How you decide to live, and how you decide to use your abilities . Of course, it’s not like you can use your powers unlimitedly . You’ll realize it fairly quickly, but just remember that nothing is free in life . ”
Nothing is free . The sentence came to him quite strongly .
Maru nodded . He’s realized again and again that he’s returned to the starting point . That made this first step all the more important for him .
“We won’t be meeting again, not unless something bad happens . ”
“Is that so . ”
“In any case, I hope you live a fun life . ”
The woman started to fade away . By the time she’s almost disappeared,
“I hope you make the right decision . ”
The woman whispered to him in a barely audible voice .
Maru stared up at the ceiling for several minutes after the woman disappeared . Mom called him out from the living room to eat dinner . He could smell delicious soup outside . Doenjang soup that smelled far better than the ones in school .
“Smells good,” he said, walking out of his door .
“Did your taste buds change overnight? I thought you didn’t like this stuff . ”
“I’m a high schooler now . I’m all grown up . ”
“Oh, is that so, sir? You’re all grown up?” mom asked in a teasey tone .
Maru just decided to sit down and start eating . It tasted familiar . Homely . Like something that just made him smile .
“Oh, you’re here, Bada? Here, have some food . ” mom said, as she watched Bada enter from the front door .
“I’m good . It’s just doenjang soup again, isn’t it? I also had some tteokbokki with friends on the way back . ”
“You can’t just eat something like that as a meal . ”
“Ugh, mom, rice cakes are carbs too, don’t you know that?”
“ . . . Sigh . ”
Mom put down the bowl of rice she had been filling . Maru understood that feeling completely . Parents always wanted to see their kids eat well .
“Han Bada . ” Maru called out .
“Eat . ”
Maru pulled out a chair next to him, earning him a glare from his little sister . He pointed to the chair .
“Eat . At least just one bite . ”
Bada was a little surprised by her brother being so forceful . She sat down at the table with a little pout .
“You never eat since you wanted bread all the time too . ”
She didn’t stop complaining until the end . Maru just found that cute, if he were being honest . Why did he stop talking with her again? Why did he stop caring for her again?
‘I just didn’t really care for her, huh . ’
After all, he did hear about her divorce a full month after the actual event . Of course, at the time he did feel a little bit annoyed at her . Why wouldn’t she even tell family about that kind of stuff? Then again, he just didn’t give her a chance to rely on her back then . Some of the things he hadn’t noticed in high school, he picked up on now . Experience was an amazing thing .
“I’ll be eating here every day from now on too, so you should eat a little bit . ”
“ . . . . . . ”
Bada glared at him from the side, but he just decided to ignore it . The girl really just ate a single bite before leaving .
“You’re finally acting like a big brother, huh?” mom asked .
“It’s nothing . ”
“I guess you really did grow a bit after going to high school?”
Mom stared at him with a playful grin . What kind of a face would she make if she realized there was a 45 year old man inside? He didn’t want to get dragged off to the psych ward for asking the question, so he just didn’t bother .
“Thank you for the meal . I’ll do the dishes . ”
“I’m good . Just go study . Didn’t you say you wanted to be the snake’s head or something?”
Snake’s head . The word made him grin . He was reminded of the conversation he had with his mother . Instead of going to a good school to be the tail end of a dragon, he’d rather go to the engineering school to be the head of a snake .
‘It was a great excuse . ’
In reality, he just didn’t want to study . For sure, all his memories from before high school were becoming clearer now . On the other hand, his memories of the future were getting fainter and fainter . He wondered how much things would have changed for him tomorrow morning as he walked into his room . Maru sat down on his table and turned on the computer with his toe . Habits were a scary thing .
“I should play some games while I’m at it . ”
Though he had no idea how good he would be . Maru started playing, fully expecting to lose every single round .
* * *
A week passed . School life went by without any problems . Maru was keeping good on his promise about leading a safe school life . Maru got off his bike as he arrived to school . Today, too, there was the disciplinary teacher keeping his eyes out like a hawk over the front gate .
“Just go cut your hair already . Before I just shave all of it off . ”
Today, he was holding a shaver in his hand instead of his usual scissors . There was a kid back in the day whose side of the hair was shaved on the side because he refused to get a haircut . The boy ended up having to go to a barber shop to get it completely shaved afterwards . Maru, on the other hand was able to pass by without any problems . For some reason, he was just more comfortable with a buzz cut anyway . He would have tried his best to get it a little bit longer if he was young, but long hair was just annoying to him now .
Why did he care so much about hair again? He couldn’t even remember .
Maru went to the small bike lot next to the parking lot . He couldn’t help but notice one of the bikes there . It was a rare road bike . It looked expensive even to Maru .
‘Maybe it belongs to a teacher?’
Maru changed his shoes and walked into the class . 3D-das really was great for indoor shoes . Never change, 3D-das .
A few of the kids waved at him when he stepped inside . He’s made friends with a few of them in a week . Maru took a look over the class . It was already split into several groups . A few groups formed by social kids merged together to form a bigger group in the class .
Dojin raised his head from the desk to greet Maru . There was some drool on his mouth from napping on the desk .
“Wipe away your saliva . ”
“Ah, yeah . ”
Dojin wiped it off with his sleeves . Maru’s made good friends with the boy over the past week . It was surprisingly easy, since the boy was already very social to begin with . The boy put on an apologetic face pretty much immediately .
“By the way, your MP3 . . . ”
“Don’t worry about it . ”
“Ah, I’m really sorry dude . ”
“Stop saying it before the word gets stuck to your mouth, dude . I can just listen to music on my phone . ”
“Hah, I really didn’t think that guy would be that much of an asshole . ”
Dojin went into the teacher’s office every day for a week to try and get that MP3 back . Despite how scary that teacher was, he worked up the courage to keep talking to the man . Maru had watched all of this from the side . Dojin really was a good guy .
“I’ll just buy you one if I can’t get it back!” He said .
Maru just waved him off . It wasn’t anything that important anyway . He didn’t want to ruin his friendship with Dojin with something so small . Actually, he was glad he was able to discern Dojin’s character with just an MP3 .
“Here, Maru, try this . ”
Dojin threw him a cookie from his bag . The boy seemed to have tons in his bag . He even seemed oddly proud of the fact that they took up the space for textbooks in his bag .
“You want candy too?”
“It’s fine . How are you getting those snacks all the time though?”
“Our family runs a supermarket . Don’t worry about it, we have plenty . ”
Dojin’s family ran a market right next to the school . Apparently they had another market somewhere else as well?
“Yo Dojin, me too!”
“One here for your big bro as well . ”
A few of Dojin’s friends reached out for candy as well .